Wednesday, July 15, 2015


"For most of the wild things on Earth, the future must depend on the conscience of mankind."  --Dr. Archie Carr, conservation biologist

At most of the workshops we do for Growing Healthy Kids, we ask people to write down one thing they want to change or improve about their health.  I have been carrying around some of these comment cards with me for awhile as a reminder of why our work to reverse and prevent childhood obesity matters.

Here is a sample from recent comment cards:

"I want to sleep better."
"I don't want to be angry anymore."
"I want to lose (fill in any number) pounds."
"I want to get my blood pressure under control."
"I don't want to get diabetes."
"I want to eat healthier."

How quickly can we improve the health literacy of Americans, especially parents? There is a sense of urgency to make a difference because many of these comments come from teenagers.  The comments about being angry bother me the most.  It bothers me even more because eating foods and drinks high in processed sugars have been shown to lead to aggressive and hostile behaviors in kids.

Here are ten tips parents can use to make healthy choices for their families:

1.  Do not buy any foods with artificial sweeteners.
2.  If you cannot pronounce the ingredient, then it's not good for you.
3.  Be careful of foods with more than 10 ingredients.
4.  Avoid foods and drinks containing food dyes.  If a color is listed as the ingredient (such as "blue 40, red 10"), your kids don't need it.  Food dyes are linked to ADD, ADHD and certain cancers.
5.  Buy foods from people who grow them.  Know your farmers.
6.  Shop at your local green markets and buy locally grown foods. See tip #6.
7.  If you buy vegetables that are in a package, look at where they were grown.  If that spinach was grown 1,000 miles away, how many days ago was it picked?  Remember:  The more days since harvest, the less nutrients.  See tip # 6 and tip #7.
8.  Read food labels and do not buy foods and drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup.
9.  Have dinner together at least 4 nights a week.
10. Teach these rules to someone you love.

If we all do something to improve access to locally grown foods, our communities will be healthier and best of all, our children will be healthier.   For some great healthy foods ideas, check out my Pinterest page @womanhealth.

In gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich
Founder, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc.